Residents in pollution hotspots could be relocated under new clean air proposals.
Cornwall Council is to discuss the plans, which could include compulsory purchases of properties in areas with “particularly poor air quality”, later.
The council admitted the scheme was likely to be “very controversial”, but said it was cheaper than alternative measures.
It said relocation was just one of the options being considered.
As part of the “Clean Air for Cornwall Strategy”, six approaches have been explored, including creating new neighbourhoods in “clean air” zones.
A council spokesperson said there was “no specific area” in mind at present.
However, there are seven Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) in Cornwall which fail to meet national air quality objectives.
Truro, Gunnislake, St Austell, Tideford, Bodmin, Camelford and the area of Kerrier – containing Pool, Camborne and Redruth – have all been declared AQMAs since 2005.
All seven areas have been singled out for the pollutant nitrogen dioxide, which is associated with respiratory problems, lung disease and cancer.
Camelford was given AQMA status in January 2017, after pressure from the Camelford Clean Air Group.
Chairwoman Claire Hewlett said: “If you look at Cornwall Council’s transport strategy, it’s all about people living close to where they work so that they can use active transport.
“To move people to a new town seems to go against that. Surely you want people to stay where they’re working so that they can walk or cycle.”
ClientEarth Healthy Air campaigner Andrea Lee branded the idea “extraordinary”, but said it was important to tackle the sources of air pollution.
One option being considered by the council is “anti-idling legislation” which would see motorists fined £20 for keeping their engines running while idle in places like taxi ranks, train stations and schools.
The council is recommending that legal advice is taken before any decisions are made.